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“An unforgettable experience” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Day Trips

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Day Trips
Ranked #88 of 663 Tours in London
Certificate of Excellence
Type: Rail Tours, Tours
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Attraction details
Owner description: A work of art in itself and a true Art Deco icon, the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train offers a journey unlike any other. Step aboard and you enter a more gracious, elegant age of travel. Romance, adventure and style are all intimately bound up in journeys and tours that depart from London and criss-cross Europe, rolling through sublime scenery to some of the continent’s most alluring cities.
Useful Information: Lockers / storage, Bathroom facilities
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
43 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“An unforgettable experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 May 2014

We recently returned from a trip on the Venice-Simplon Orient Express having also benefitted from the same offer of two free nights in Hotel Cipriani. The hotel is on the island of Giudecca and from our room in the Palazzo part of the hotel, we had the most amazing view. We were on the fourth (top) floor but the lift took you to the third floor and then it was only a short climb to our room. The view from our room was the iconic view of Venice, across the water to St Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace. The room had kitchenette and lounge areas and I was blown away by the possibility of lying in the bath and being able to watch the TV which was integrated in to the wall at the end of the bath. This worked independently of what was on in the bedroom. Sitting on the terrace overlooking the water while having breakfast was a great start to the day and choosing a cocktail from the extensive menu in the bar at the end of the day was a perfect finish. The friendliness and efficiency of the staff in the hotel were faultless. The logistics of getting us and our luggage from hotel to train worked extremely well and then this amazing experience on the train started. We were welcomed on board by our steward, Vincent, who contributed enormously to making the whole trip so special. Nothing was too much trouble for him and he did it all with a smile on his face the whole time. The compartments are compact but very well designed and comfortable. Having the opportunity to get dressed up for dinner was a fun experience and the meal, as were all of them, was as good as you would find in any top-class restaurant. Any special dietary requirements are catered for - all the staff were very well-informed about my husband not eating fish or drinking alcohol - and you are never made to feel that that caused them any problems. Your compartment is converted to the sleeping accommodation while you are at dinner and it is surprisingly comfortable. I was on the top bunk and it was a lot wider than I had expected. I did find it quite noisy overnight - earplugs would have been a good idea - but it didn't prevent me from having a good sleep. The transfer from the train in France to the train in England went fairly smoothly apart from being delayed through the border control but this was apparently very unusual. Contrary to the other reviewer's experience of the British Pullman, we found that the service in our carriage - Audrey - equalled that of the European train and again our steward was friendly and helpful answering all our questions about other trips on the VSOE. In fact we have already booked up to take my mother-in-law on one of the day trips from Victoria Station in September. I wouldn't hesitate to do this trip again - it wouldn't really matter the destination as the pleasure all comes from being on the train.

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank MaB288
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BrunoJanssens, Manager at Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Day Trips, responded to this review, 14 May 2014
Thank you very much for your very kind words following your recent trip with us.
I was delighted to see that you fully enjoyed your stay at the Hotel Cipriani and thoroughly enjoyed the staff and overall experience. As the manager of the VSOE, I was also very pleased to see that you seem to have enjoyed very much the train, your steward and the food, and also what our UK Pullman train is offering on its last leg to London.
We would delighted to welcome you back on board the VSOE for another one of our many other European destinations!
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Devon
Level Contributor
38 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
“Worth every penny for a fantastic experience.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 April 2014

Where to start? From the moment that you receive the white box with you tickets and itinerary it becomes apparent that this is a special trip. On arrival at the booking in lounge next to platform 2 at Victoria Station you are made to feel incredibly special with a personal greeting and explanation about what will happen from the staff. All your luggage is then labelled and taken from you. This is the last you see of even your hand baggage until you get to Calais, where you will find it placed ready in your compartment. You board the British Pullman where you will be seated in one of many restored carriages with plushly upholstered seats and lovely china and crystal place settings. We were in Ibis, the oldest carriage. The first thing you are served is a lovely Bellini cocktail of Prosecco and Peach Juice. The menu says that you can enjoy an extra glass for a fiver but they kept flowing and we were never charged! A fantastic brunch was served consisting of a fresh fruit cocktail, smoked salmon with scrambled eggs on a crumpet with pan fried mushrooms and a lemon and poppy seed cake with whipped cream. The scrambled eggs were beautifully freshly made with a great soft texture and no rubberiness at all – a remarkable achievement aboard a train.
In due course you pull in to Folkestone station where you disembark, accompanied by a jazz band, to board a luxury coach which takes you through the channel tunnel. The coaches are the least glamorous part of the experience but are very comfortable and you are offered fruit juice or mineral water to drink. The whole transfer process is very seamless with hostesses keeping you informed and looking after you the whole way. The trip through the tunnel takes about 40 minutes and in due course you arrive at Calais Ville train station where the gleaming blue and gold carriages of the continental train await.
You have now reached the Orient Express proper and the train staff will be lined up along the platform to greet you and direct you where to go. Your name is checked by your individual car steward who will now look after your every need for the rest of the journey. You are shown to your compartment where your cabin bags are waiting for you as if by magic. We travelled with one standard airline sized cabin case for night clothes etc. and a large suit carrier for dresses and Dinner Jacket and found this to be the ideal combination. The suit carrier acts as your cupboard for the journey. It is nearly 5.00pm when the train departs from Calais station. No sooner had we sat down on the superbly comfortable banquet seat than our steward, David, was there offering us a glass of Prosecco and running through the details of how to operate our compartment and what would happen next. Our Passports were taken away so that we would not have to worry about the inconvenience of passport control and crossing borders and a short time later the Maître d’hôtel was along to explain and take our reservations for dinner. There are three Restaurant Cars on the train and we had Dinner in the Cote d’Azur which is decorated with lovely Lalique Glass panels, and Lunch the following day in the Etoile du Nord which has wonderful marquetry panels. Before you know it, it is time to change for Dinner. This requires a little thought and planning as there is definitely not room for two people to do this at once. Ladies – it is not easy to apply make up on a moving, rocking train so a little prior planning of your regime will help. That said, the wash stand and mirror facilities in the compartment are excellent with plenty of hot water toiletries, tissues and towels so it beats the mirror in your car’s sun visor!
You cannot be over dressed for Dinner. The vast majority of people were in Dinner Suits or Evening Dresses, some long and some short. A number had gone the whole twenties look, but everyone had made an effort, if only to jazz up their best lounge suit or frock and this adds to the whole atmosphere. Take the chance to enjoy a cocktail in the bar car while listening to the pianist on the baby grand piano. You will not get an experience like this anywhere else and this is all part of the fun. You are then called through to Dinner. Dinner was an excellent variety with superb service and top quality cooking of Michelin star standard all beautifully served on wonderful china with wine in lovely monogrammed crystal glasses. The service is perfectly judged with suitable friendliness, not overt or overbearing and always there if required. Dinner is served in two sittings at 7.00pm and 8.30pm. Having indulged in Brunch on the Pullman we were quite full and opted for the later sitting to allow more time to change and enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail.
While at Dinner your compartment is converted to bunks for the night. You return from Dinner to find the bunks made up and a suitable little night time gift of sweets on your bed. You have monogrammed dressing gowns and slippers to make use of. Little reading lights by the head of each bunk are easily controlled. The bottom bunk has a little net in which to place your night time essentials while the top bunk relies on the rack over the window. Be aware that this rack has hot water pipes running underneath so can get quite warm and you may not want to leave a kindle or phone there. The top bunk is warmer than the bottom for room temperature. Being 1920s carriages there is no Air Conditioning and cooling is provided by an electric fan or the opening of a window. The beds are beautifully comfortable with enough pillows and blankets and we both slept very well. If you are susceptible to noise then I would recommend a set of ear plugs. I am not easily disturbed by normal train noises and managed without. When you wake in the morning you are just getting in to the fantastic scenery of the lakes and mountains of Switzerland. After rising, a quick freshen up at the wash stand and dressing it is a case of pressing the buzzer to summon the steward. David was there in minutes to make up the compartment and then bring us a n excellent continental breakfast of rolls, croissant, pastries, jam, cheeses, tea and coffee all accompanied by fantastic scenery through the window.
You will now have time to relax and enjoy the scenery, read and go shopping in the boutique if you wish. Before long it is time for another excellent meal in the form of a three course lunch. Again the standard of food and service was excellent. Most passengers spend the afternoon sleeping off the excesses of the previous 24 hours in the comfortable bliss of a luxury train compartment! Then it is time for afternoon tea. Tea or Coffee is served with cake and pastries in your compartment, all to the inimitable standard you will now have come to view as quite normal. Not long after this your luggage will be collected from you so that it can be unloaded when you reach Venice and transferred to your waiting transfer arrangements. Heaven forbid that you should have to do anything quite so demanding as carry a suitcase! We were met at Venice by the most attentive and caring transfer agents who escorted us to a waiting water taxi to take us to our hotel. Emerging from Venice St Lucia Station has to be one of the most amazing experiences ever as there cannot be another train station setting quite like this.
People ask if the experience is worth the money. The answer, in my opinion, is an unequivocal YES! It is undeniably expensive and you need to accept this before you even begin the booking process, but you are made to feel incredibly special. While you are aware of the other passengers, and socialise with them, you are made to feel as if you are the only person that matters to each and every member of staff. The surroundings and comfort, the levels of service, standard of food and drink, combined with magnificent scenery are something you will struggle to achieve in any other way. Do not be tempted to try and do it “on the cheap” as this will only detract from your experience and worrying about what you are spending will mar the journey. I am not advocating unrestrained profligacy but accept that to enjoy your time you may well need to spend 12 Euros on a cocktail. A bottle of wine is what you would expect to pay in a Michelin starred restaurant. Set a realistic budget that allows you to enjoy the whole experience as it is meant to be and you will have memories that will last you for the rest of your life and be worth every single penny.

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
28 Thank family_manDevon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BrunoJanssens, Manager at Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Day Trips, responded to this review, 28 April 2014
Thank you so much for writing such a nice and "detailed", to say the least, description of your recent journey on board the VSOE. I will be happy to share it with the whole staff, so that they can understand the impact of what we are offering our passengers.
I think that there is no need to add anything because you have truly understood the whole "experience" that we are offering through our different journeys within Europe.
We would be delighted to welcome you again on board the VSOE!!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Worcester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
56 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“Simply Amazing experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 April 2014

We have just returned from a trip on the VSOE from Venice to London with a promotional offer of starting the trip with 2 complimentary nights at the Cipriani Hotel. This hotel has an enviable reputation which we enjoyed immensely, having a wonderful ambience and quality of surroundings and service. Although our room was possibly one of the older rooms this was still a lovely room. The views over the lagoon and free boat to and from St Marks square just added that special feeling. Then we boarded the Orient Express, WOW!! What an amazing way to travel back to London, no queuing at the airport security! This journey was stunning from start to finish. The cabins are small as you would expect but so comfortable and private. Our steward Vincent was always there to look after us and was very professional with his role. The dining cabins (3) were all exquisite and all different. We particularly liked the Cote du Zur cabin. The food was perfection especially as the chefs cook in such a confined space. It is hard to believe such fine food can be served on a train but it was. The staff are extremely well trained and do everything possible to ensure you enjoy the experience. The only thing I would say was it was a little noisy to sleep well but it was comfy. We did not want to leave this train but sadly we had too. We then went by coach through the channel tunnel to meet the Pullman to London. I have yo say I was a little deflated on this stretch and found the staff not up to the standard of the European side. The afternoon tea was ok but not served with any finesse or ambience like the VSOE. I would suggest they spend some time the other side and learn from there partners. The train was very nice but the tiny details are unfortunately missing on this leg of the journey which is a shame. I hope to travel again one day but it would definitely be on the European or Oriental side.

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
6 Thank Jennybabs62
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BrunoJanssens, Manager at Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Day Trips, responded to this review, 28 April 2014
Thank you so much for your very nice comments following your trip between Venice & London.
I was happy to share your comments with the staff, and it is through comments like yours that our staff can feel how the quality of their service can impact on the whole experience of our passengers. Chef was delighted to read that you most enjoyed his cooking considering the "confined" space they are working in!
We would be delighted to welcome you back on board the VSOE, or between Bangkok and Singapore!!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
60 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
“Incredible experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 April 2014

My significant other and I just got off this train yesterday, and it was so amazing I was compelled to write this review right away. From the start to our arrival in VEnice everything was top notch and I could not imagine any room for improvement! I know it is pricey but It was worth every penny. We are already Looking into booking another journey with them in the near future! Our cabin steward VIncent's dedication to his job made this incredible experience even more memorable!!!! If possible upgrade to a cabin suite and bring earplugs if you are sensitive to sound as the train can be noisy

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank Leonard M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BrunoJanssens, Manager at Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Day Trips, responded to this review, 28 April 2014
Thank you very much for your lovely comments following your trip on board the VSOE.
We are all delighted to know that you enjoyed just everything, and that you are already looking to book another journey amongst our many European destinations.
I am very happy that you most enjoyed, Vincent, your steward and his dedicated service!!
Looking forward to seeing on board the VSOE again.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Market Harborough, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
83 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Once in a lifetime trip London to Venice”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 April 2014

Yes, it's everything you expect and others' descriptions are accurate - attentive staff, outstanding food throughout (how they do it in tiny kitchen galleys beats me). We were delayed on the coach going under the Channel because of a train failure, but that was not the VSOE's fault. At least we knew we wouldn't miss our connection and indeed the Orient Express train was waiting for us, staff stood to attention outside, when we finally got to Calais Station. Dinner on the first night was a highlight. People made good effort to dress for the event. The journey on the second day through the Swiss Alps was sensational. But don't expect to get much sleep in the overnight bit because of the train noise and constant stopping/starting. No-one seemed to get murdered and there was no sign of James Bond on the train, but life is full of these trivial disappointments. Wouldn't do it again; it really is a once in a lifetime experience, but glad we did it.

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank Charles O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BrunoJanssens, Manager at Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Day Trips, responded to this review, 9 April 2014
Thank you for your very nice comments following your recent trip on board the VSOE.
We are very happy to see that you seemed to have enjoyed the train and the whole experience of traveling back in time that we are trying to offer our guests. The food, indeed, is a big part of the experience, as well as the landscapes, especially chosen, to make it a unique trip.
We would love to welcome you back on another one of our many other European destinations.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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